In everyone, the weeds of sin will be mixed with the good wheat of the gospel until the end of time. The Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ’s salvation, but still on the way to holiness. (Catechism 827)
The parable of the wheat and the tares ends with shimmering drama: The bundled weeds burn; the sifted wheat fills the barn with the restful smell of harvest-time. In the end, Christ, the truly just Judge, will forever separate good from evil.
The parable also injects drama into our virtual, interweb gathering. Some of us, dear reader, are good guys, but some of us are bad.
We do not, however, wear jerseys to identify which team each of us is on. We can’t. Because all of us are on both teams.
Beautiful baptized Christians, raise your hands. Sinners, raise your hands.
This would seem an opportune moment to try and expostulate the doctrines of original sin, Christ’s satisfaction for sin, the effects of baptism, and the quest for holiness. Got a couple hours? Just kidding.
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
[George Chapman was a contemporary of Shakespeare’s. Chapman was the first to translate Homer’s works into English. Chapman’s iambic-pentameter Homer had been supplanted by later, more precise translations, which were the standard fare at Keats’ time. Apollo directs the divine Muses, to whom Homer appealed for aid. Darien is a province of Panama.]
…At Holy Mass, after Communion, when the deacon or priest cleanses the chalice, he says this prayer quietly to himself:
Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munera temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
The translation of this Latin sentence which appears in the current English Sacramentary is an utter mush.
But soon we will have a new English-language Missal! This is how the prayer will be translated:
What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.
Beautifully put. Speaking of well-written sentences: I have seen Hamlet many times. I have seen all the movies, and I have seen it on stage probably a half-dozen times.
The other night I saw the best Hamlet I have ever seen. At the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Not the Folger Shakespeare Theatre Company downtown, which is to be avoided like a noxious cesspool.)
The Hamlet at the Library was great. Seeing it restored my faith in the art of Thespis. Ophelia stole the show. The play made sense to me in a new way–as the story of ruined love. Do whatever you can to get a ticket.
…Here is a short Ascension Day homily:
Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by hands, but heaven itself, that He might now appear before God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:24)
St. Paul traveled the world to teach the Good News. When he went to the pagan city of Athens, he observed the many shrines to the many pagan gods. This moved him to explain the difference between pagan worship and Christian worship.
Two seasons full of potential, full of excitement about the future.
Two seasons that were ultimately–dare we say it?–disappointing.
This makes DaJuan leaving last year look like good news by comparison. He mailed it in his last year anyway. But Monroe? Gosh.
You sure know how to hurt a guy.
What happened to loyalty? What happened to chasing glory instead of cash? Who doesn’t know that there is a million times more glory in the college game than the pros? There is more glory in the Big East than there is in the NBA.
Beware the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept seats of honor. As a pretext, they recite lengthy prayers.
Our Holy Father dedicated this year to priests. 2009-2010 is the “Year of the Priest.”
When the Pope began this Holy Year in June, he urged everyone to reflect on the “immense gift which priests represent…presenting Christ’s words and actions each day.”
But when we hear the gospel passage we just heard, it seems like the Lord is telling us that priests will receive a very serious condemnation. After all, wearing long robes, sitting up front, and reciting lengthy prayers is what we do.
Now, let’s make a distinction. It seems pretty clear that the good Lord is condemning not ALL men in robes, but just the greedy and vain ones, the ones who pray without meaning it and who glorify ourselves instead of God.
…Here is a homily which some poor people had to endure on Sunday, All Saints Day:
Your reward will be great in heaven…You will be comforted…You will inherit the land…You will be satisfied…Mercy will be shown you…You will see God. (see Matthew 5:1-8)
These are Christ’s promises to us. Countless Christians have gone before us, and they have already seen these promises fulfilled. Today we salute the saints. They can attest that the Lord is faithful to His promises.
Up in heaven, the saints rejoice in the faithful goodness of God. Here are a few lines of their hymn:
Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever…Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb. (Revelation 7:10, 12)
The saints see the promises fulfilled, and they sing out praise to God. May our hymns harmonize with the hymn of the saints in heaven. We sing because we believe in the One who made the promises.
But before we get carried away, we have to pause. To whom did the Lord make His sweet promises?
The poor in spirit. They who mourn. The meek. The hungry and thirsty. The merciful. The clean of heart. The peacemakers.
This is what the saints were like when they were on earth: poor, merciful, meek, mourning, hungry, thirsty, pure-hearted peacemakers–like Christ Himself. Christ is the Blessed One, the Man of Promise. To be blessed, to inherit the promises, we must be like Him. We must be united with Him.
Every man who has hope based on Christ makes himself pure as He is pure (I John 3:3).
The saints have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).
To receive the promises, we must be purified. To be like Christ, united with Him, we must be washed clean of sin.
We may be humble and poor in spirit, but not humble enough. We may mourn the evils of the world, but we do not mourn them enough. We may be meek, but not meek enough. We may hunger and thirst for righteousness, but we are not hungry and thirsty enough. We may be merciful to our brothers and sisters in this world, but not merciful enough. Our hearts may clean, but they are not clean enough. We may make peace sometimes, but nowhere near often enough.
At the moment after we were baptized, we were pure. For many of us, that was some time ago. Then it was God’s good pleasure to leave us on earth for a while. Our mission on earth is to do good and avoid evil, to be like Christ.
By God’s grace, we have done some good. We praise God for it. On the other hand, because we are weak and selfish, we have not always avoided evil. We have no one to blame for this but ourselves. The good is God’s, the evil is ours. The praise is God’s; the impurity is ours.
If only we could go back to the baptismal font, and get washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb again! If only we could meekly, mournfully approach the Prince of Peace—if only we could kneel before the Throne of Mercy, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and have our hearts cleaned and refreshed!
If only…if only? Would the all-merciful, all-loving Lord leave us high and dry, with no way back to His life-giving waters? Would He make promises that could never be fulfilled, because there was no way to purify ourselves so we could inherit them?
Of course He would not do that. What did He say to the first priests? He said: “Whoever’s sins you forgive are forgiven them…Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
All Saints Day. Let’s consider the one thing that all the saints have in common. When they trod the earth, they were very different people. They became holy in different ways.
But they all confessed their sins. They were all humble enough to confess. They were not too proud. They were holy, but they knew they were not holy enough.
And they were not too proud to confess their sins to a priest. They were not too Protestantized to admit that the way God’s mercy works is by confessing to a priest.
So, let’s keep All Saints Day holy by singing our hymns of praise to God. Let’s echo the hymns of the saints as best we can. Let’s give the Lord all the praise and glory that are His. Let us salute the saints with joy. And let’s remember that the saints are the people who spent their lives confessing their sins.